News: Gaining cultural experience through tactical training
Story by Staff Sgt. Carlos Davis
DAECHEON, South Korea – “While I was sitting in the turret waiting till it was my turn to fire,” said Pfc. Desmon Hayes, from Slidell, La, “I just didn’t want to mess it up. That was the only thing that was going through my mind. I kept talking to my team chief. She kept motivating me and kept me on the straight and narrow and we knocked it out.”
Hayes and soldiers from Battery E, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, attached to 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, fired Stinger missiles at flying targets from the M-1097 Avenger Air Defense System and the FIM-92 Stinger launcher to certify their artillery skills at Chulmae Range April 1-5, 2013, in Daecheon, South Korea.
Soldiers tested their equipment, developed crew cohesion and built confidence in themselves and each other, all while firing live Stinger missiles and working with Republic of Korea soldiers.
“There is nothing like shooting live ammunition to stay good at what you do,” said Col. Tracy Banister, brigade commander.
The exercise allowed experienced soldiers to share their knowledge with the newer soldiers, said Banister.
“It feels good to share my experiences with him (Hayes) and get him right on track,” said Spc. Emilia Castillo, from El Paso, Texas, an air and missile defense crew member assigned to Battery E.
Korean soldiers understand the sacrifices U.S. soldiers endure when they are deployed to other countries.
“You guys probably miss your family, but you do not lose sight of why you are here,” said Cpl. Wong Jae-won, a ROK army soldier assigned to 2388th Fires Supply Company at Chulmae Range.
Although the United States and Republic of Korea are separated by land and sea, their soldiers share common interests.
“When we finished up with the training each day, we talked with the ROK soldiers,” said Spc. Julian Gonzalez, from San Antonio, Texas, and an air and missile defense crew member assigned to the battery. “We played basketball with them and talked with them about the culture and they ask about ours.”
While at Chulmae Range, the Battery E soldiers qualified 27 Avenger crews earning their semiannual qualification on the weapon system for their aerial gunnery certification.
Banister said they also had a chance to live side-by-side, learn about the Korean culture from their ROK allies and experience a brotherhood that continues to grow strong after more than 60 years.